Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MAKING NEEDED ECOSYSTEM SERVICES PAY IN AN AGRICULTURAL WATERSHED

Location: Soil Management Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Build integrated models to predict the impact of targeted land-use changes on managed and natural ecosystem services and to mitigate effects of environmental stressors on these systems in the Chippewa River Watershed (CRW). 2. Develop robust and transferable approaches based on principles of multifunctional agriculture to identify environmentally-friendly and economically-viable land-use changes with synergistic positive impacts at the farm and landscape levels.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1. We will utilize simulation models (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator, APSIM, and Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer, DSSAT) that can integrate predictions based on climate change (Hadley Center Coupled Model, HadCM3), General Circulation Model (GCM) and whole-farm systems modeling for strategic and tactical planning at the farm and watershed levels in the CRW. This will lead to improved understanding of site-specific impact of climate, soil types, and management on agricultural production and will be extrapolated to the watershed level using GIS technology. Currently existing databases compiled by NCSCRL from on-station (8 years) and on-farm (4 years) on traditional and alternative cropping systems, including organic cropping systems and perennial biomass crops will be utilized to calibrate field- and watershed-level simulation models and to develop necessary inputs for the SWAT applications. Additional data will be collected from the same experimental plots and farmers' fields during the duration of the project. The databases include detailed quantitative measurements on crops, soils, nutrients, (mainly C, N and P, and micronutrients), water and residues. Additionally, data on the impact of management practices (e.g., tillage implements, timing and frequency), on crops and soils is also available in electronic formats. 2. The simulation procedure to be used allows for point-based models (e.g., a field or experimental plots) to be instantiated multiple times within a single simulation, with communication of data between each discrete point in space. The final output will be linked using GIS technology for planning purposes. All raw data on climate, crops, soils, and current and alternative management practices are available for the research farm of NCSCRL and for 4 farms in or close to the CRW. 3. The output of the proposed research at NCSCRL will provide input(s) to be utilized by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) team to assess the impact of land management practices on water, sediment and agricultural chemical yields in the complex CRW basin with varying soil types, land use and management conditions. The simulation study at NCSCRL will test two interrelated hypotheses: (1) Meditating water flow at landscape level will help sustain managed and natural ecosystems through increased biodiversity, habitat-carrying capacity and better water quality, and (2) Increasing perennial land-use will improve environmental health through reduced run-off and soil erosion, biodiversity and habitat and sustained carbon sequestration.


3.Progress Report:

The objectives of this project are:.
1)build integrated models to predict the impact of targeted land-use changes on managed and natural ecosystem services and to mitigate effects of environmental stressors on these systems in the Chippewa River Watershed (CRW) and.
2)develop robust and transferable approaches based on principles of multifunctional agriculture to identify environmentally-friendly and economically-viable land-use changes with synergistic positive impacts at the farm and landscape levels. We simulated nine baseline cropping systems scenarios across two weather scenarios, two management practices, and 132 points totaling over 27,000 individual simulations and simulated farming practices; added and modified logic to custom tailor scenarios to fit local practices and extract data in the prescribed manner; created new custom modules to monitor and record new data types; and simplified built-in logic and tools to increase simulation speed and consistency. The new modules are being used by the project collaborators, including Land Stewardship Project and the University of Minnesota, to simulate alternative management practices and develop grazing protocols in the Chippewa River Watershed.

We developed a new custom program to allow increased automation of scenario runs, enabling them to run unmanaged for greater periods of time in a multi-core environment and further enhanced custom-built data capture and processing programs to decrease the turnaround time of data conversion. We collected, parsed, and combined over 100GB of text outputs into daily, annual, and centennial data sheets. Then we translated final output data into a relational database form to increase speed and utility of data access. We estimated data for ecosystem services at the cropping systems, crop rotations and individual crop bases and provided a database to collaborators, which is being used to develop watershed-wide recommendations to farmers for the production of perennial crops, soil conservation, and environment protection. This project links to Objective 2 from the parent project: Evaluate multiple cropping systems to develop optimal management practices for biomass utilization of crops that will diversify the landscape and maintain or enhance soil productivity.


Last Modified: 12/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page